Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ACINO — Result In Brief

Project ID: 645127
Funded under: H2020-EU.
Country: Italy
Domain: Digital Economy

Service-aware network control

Internet applications keep pushing the limits of network resources, but increasing resources is ever-more expensive. An alternative comes from control software that dynamically provides exactly the resources that applications need.
Service-aware network control
The internet is like a postal system. Although the user is only concerned with sending and receiving, many hidden systems enable the bulk transport and delivery of billions of items. Postal systems such as post boxes, collection vans, sorting/distribution centres and high-capacity vehicles are analogous to various internet network layers.

Current optical-fibre networks also consist of several layers. A grooming layer aggregates multiple small data flows into large flows that can be efficiently carried by an underlying high-capacity optical layer. The interaction of optical and other layers allows the network to manage bandwidth.

However, this grooming process treats all applications the same. It results in inaccurate mapping of application needs, since the process currently considers the bandwidth only. Therefore, some applications may not be able to adequately carry out their job, because their traffic will flow over paths with more latency that they can tolerate (or paths that are more prone to faults, or less secure, etc.). This results in generally suboptimal resource allocation to applications.

More efficient networks

Instead of accelerating the entire system, which becomes increasingly difficult and expensive with each improvement, networks are becoming smarter. Rather than increasing all network resources, providing applications with just what they need as required achieves the same effect but more economically and efficiently.

Future systems (e.g. 5G) will need to strictly control service parameters in this way. The EU-funded ACINO project first assessed whether dynamic network orchestration would be possible. Then, the team developed a suitable system that dynamically targets conventional inefficiencies in network layering structures. The new software is based on existing open-source controllers and interfaces.

“Basically, we have developed a software framework to achieve dynamic multilayer network control,” says Dr Domenico Siracusa, head of the ACINO research unit. The project developed algorithms that constantly monitor applications’ network resource needs. At the same time, the system automatically determines the optimal on-the-fly resource allocation and how best to achieve it. The controller delivers to each network application a service tailored at each layer of the transport network.

The outcome is described as service-aware control. The resulting efficiencies emerge from the fact that each network application receives the appropriate resources for the service it needs but no more.

Performance gains

Testing achieved the first-ever demonstration of service-aware automation in transport telecommunication networks. ACINO’s application-aware software outperformed conventional control systems by a substantial margin. Achieving the same performance increase with conventional networking would double the costs in some cases. Alternatively, for a given cost, the ACINO software provides performance superior to current technologies.

The practical outcome will be networks better able to handle medium- to high-bandwidth business applications. This will mean more efficient services and lower costs. Furthermore, network operators will be able to more effectively transfer and secure large quantities of application-generated data, and in an automated way. “Our work means the ability to offer value-added services to customers,” added Dr Siracusa. The reduced need for human intervention further saves time and costs.

Several companies working in the European market are pushing forward with the project’s work. One ACINO partner SME is already offering services based on the project’s research. Additionally, a manufacturer of optical products, including network nodes, has demonstrated that ACINO’s multilayer controller can control their products.

ACINO’s legacy will be network performance gains at lowered costs and improved profitability for European businesses.


ACINO, service-aware, network control, network layer, dynamic network orchestration, multilayer controller
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